Majority backs Lee’s detention

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Majority backs Lee’s detention

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The arrest of an opposition party assemblyman accused of an insurrection plot is weighing on people’s thoughts about the leftist Unified Progressive Party. More than three in five of those who responded to a survey late last week said the party should be disbanded.

One thousand adults were surveyed by the JoongAng Ilbo on Friday and Saturday; 61.7 percent of the respondents said the beleaguered party should be dismantled, with 27 percent saying it should be allowed to continue. Others responded as having no opinion.

In a testament to the worsening crisis it faces, the UPP’s approval rating plummeted to 0.8 percent from just over 2 percent in a June 27 survey.

When asked if the arrest of Lee Seok-ki, a proportional representative of the UPP now under detention and being questioned by the National Intelligence Service, was the correct step, 71.8 percent of the respondents agreed. Less than 14 percent disapproved of the arrest.

More than seven in 10 respondents in their 20s said the 51-year-old lawmaker deserved to be detained; more than 57 percent of Koreans in their 30s and two-thirds of those in their 40s agreed.

Commenting on the support for disbanding the UPP, one academic observer disagreed.

“[Lee and the members of Revolutionary Organization] deserve condemnation for stirring disorder over the issue of national security,” said Kang Won-taek, a political science professor at Seoul National University, “But it would be more appropriate to have the UPP judged by [voters] in elections rather than forcing it to disband.”

On the spy agency’s handling of the case, 59.6 percent of the Koreans surveyed said the agency was investigating the alleged conspiracy in a fair and trustworthy manner, while 26 percent disagreed, saying the intelligence service cannot be trusted.

Despite relative positive reviews on the NIS’s job in going after the treasonous group, 33.1 percent of the respondents said the intelligence agency is using the insurrection case to deflect public attention from the agency’s alleged smear campaign against the opposition party candidate during the 2012 presidential election campaign.

President Park Geun-hye, the country’s first woman president, notched an approval rating of 69.1 percent; she is much more popular than her party, Saenuri, which 42.5 percent of respondents saw positively. The Democratic Party was supported by 22.4 percent of those polled; a third said they supported no political party.

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent with a confidence level of 95 percent.

BY SHIN CHANG-WOON AND KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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